After hearing repeated requests for more practice rooms, Belmont has answered the cries of its students with a new addition to McAfee Concert Hall.
The new McAfee Annex opened March 17, adding 16 new practice rooms for music students.
Prior to this, 36 practice spaces were available to students, both standard practice rooms and classrooms in the Wilson School of Music.
The entire second floor of McAfee Annex is being used for the new rooms, said Dr. Cynthia Curtis of the music school.
Finding a space to practice has become marginally easier for students since the opening, sophomore Jared Mitchell said.
Mitchell, who studies commercial voice, said the rooms offer campus a significant improvement.
“You’re always looking at a wait for rooms, especially when people have them reserved for things like rehearsals and lessons, but I think it’s definitely a great improvement now that the new space is open,” he said.
Curtis said faculty and students had been requesting new rooms for some time when she was finally contacted by the provost, Dr. Thomas Burns, who then arranged a meeting with President Bob Fisher.
“We met with Dr. Fisher in the Annex and he said it was time do this,” she said. “President Fisher deserves a lot of the credit for these practice rooms.”
The goal for the new rooms was to increase the availability of practice space for student musicians, said Curtis. Ten of the new rooms have pianos installed, and the remaining 6 are slightly smaller for instrumental practice.
While the new rooms are a welcome change for all music students, Curtis said she was particularly excited for those students who are instrumentalists.
“It’s perfect for those students, especially because the new rooms are right next to the concert hall,” Curtis said. “The ensembles and the other students can just move their instruments from the rooms to the concert hall when they’re ready to rehearse for shows instead of across campus.”
The location of the rooms is also convenient for older students because they are closer to upperclassmen housing, said Mitchell.
“I like how secluded they are,” he said. “Not only are they close to where I live, but when I go practice I’m also getting away from the hubbub of main campus, which is really nice.”
In addition to their close proximity to the concert hall, Curtis said the quality of the rooms’ construction is superb. She said the rooms not only have excellent sound isolation, which prevents sounds from one room carrying over into another, but the rooms are also equipped with sound absorption panels to keep decibel levels low for safety reasons.
“The rooms were designed with student safety in mind. Health and safety is very important for musicians when around so much noise,” Curtis said.
Now that the new rooms are in place and open, Curtis said the impact for Belmont can be nothing but positive. More than anything, she wants her students to feel like they have been heard by the school of music.
“We have tried to utterly maximize the availability of practice rooms for our students. We’ve increased not only the number of rooms, but also the number of hours they’re open and the proximity to where the students perform. I think that’s real impact right there,” Curtis said.